Creator of iconic Tri-tone details how the now familiar Apple sound came to be

Whether you first heard it after converting music in iTunes, or receiving a message on an iPhone, ff you've ever wondered where the famous Apple Tri-tone sound came from, you now have your answer. Created by Kelly Jacklin, the sound was originally intended for the program that eventually became SoundJam MP, which then became iTunes after it was acquired by Apple. Tri-tone was created as a sound to let users know that the program was finished burning a disc. The goal was to create a sound that was both simple and distinctive, according to Jacklin:

I was looking for something "simple" that would grab the user's attention. I thought a simple sequence of notes, played with a clean-sounding instrument, would cut through the clutter of noise in a home or office. So I had two tasks: pick an instrument, and pick a sequence of notes. Simple, right? Yeah, says you; everyone's an armchair musician...

Tri-tone remained with the program after it purchased by Apple and turned into iTunes. Eventually, it became the sound played by the installer on OS X after an installation had been completed. But most people know it today as the default text message tone that ships with the iPhone.

It's an interesting bit of history for something that's become, for many, a small but important part of day-to-day life. In addition to text messages, Tri-tone is used by several apps, like the official Twitter app, for instance, to alert people to new messages and information. The original post is a fascinating, in-depth look at the creation of Tri-tone, including the music theory and some of the programming behind the sound, and I highly encourage you to take a look. Then come back and tell me - what do you think of Tri-tone?

Source: Kelly Jacklin

Joseph Keller

Joseph Keller is the former Editor in Chief of iMore. An Apple user for almost 20 years, he spends his time learning the ins and outs of iOS and macOS, always finding ways of getting the most out of his iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac.